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Author: Eagletale
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Congo Opposition Leader Tshisekedi Clinches Surprise Win in Presidential Election

Eagletale

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[Image: E52557EA-A0F4-4330-8566-CBD2D7030575.jpeg]

Democratic Republic of Congo’s electoral commission on Thursday declared opposition leader Felix Tshisekedi the surprise winner of last month’s chaotic presidential election, but the runner-up dismissed the outcome as an “electoral coup.”

The result sets the stage for Congo’s first democratic transfer of power, but also a tense political standoff with the potential for the kind of violence that followed polls in 2006 and 2011 whose outcome was contested.

Vote tallies by Congo’s Catholic church (CENCO) showed second-placed opposition candidate Martin Fayulu as victor, according to two diplomats briefed on the findings.

Tshisekedi won with 38.57 percent of more than 18 million ballots cast, Corneille Nangaa, the president of the election commission (CENI), told a news conference at 3 a.m. (0200 GMT) that seemed timed to avoid any immediate reaction in the streets.

“Felix Tshisekedi Tshilombo is declared the provisionally- elected president of Democratic Republic of Congo,” Nangaa said, to a mixture of cheers and gasps inside CENI headquarters.

In the Kinshasa neighborhood of Limete where Tshisekedi lives, thousands of people danced in the streets in celebration and cars slowed down and honked their horns.

Some chanted that Congo had “turned the page” on the Kabila era, which began in 1997 when Joseph Kabila’s father, Laurent, led a rebellion that overthrew longtime leader Mobutu Sese Seko. Joseph took over in 2001 when Laurent was assassinated.

“For a ruler to pass power to an opponent is rare, and it gives hope for the rest of Africa,” said John, a school teacher in Kinshasa who declined to give his full name.

“We now want change with this new power. Poverty, insecurity, killings, we must finish with all this.”

Speaking to cheering supporters at his campaign headquarters, Tshisekedi paid his respects to outgoing President Joseph Kabila, whom he called “an important political partner”, and promised to rule for all Congo’s 80 million people.

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